Rwanda’s Gold Exports Fetched US$522 Million in 2020 – a 754.6% Increase

Miners at work inside Mageragere mining site in Rwanda

By David Himbara

Rwanda’s gold exports are connected to gold smuggling in DR Congo, while the owners of Aldango Ltd which exports the gold, have been convicted of money-laundering and fraud.

The World Bank’s Update on Rwanda’s economy published in January 2021 paints a depressing picture. This is highlighted by the fact that an additional 550,000 Rwandans will fall under the poverty line in 2021. Perhaps, the most troubling part the report is Rwanda’s gold exports that continue to sharply increase. Further, the source of gold and its exporter are no longer a mystery. The noted World Bank’s Rwanda Economic Update and the June 2020 UN Group of Experts on DR Congo reveal the source of Rwanda’s gold exports and the owners of the exporter. The exporter is the Kigali-based Aldango Ltd headquartered in Dubai. Meanwhile, the owners of Aldango Ltd were convicted for money laundering and fraud in Belgium in 2020.

The world Bank’s Update indicates that Rwanda exported US$522 million worth of gold in the first nine months of 2020. According to the National Bank of Rwanda, Rwanda’s gold exports shot up by 754.6 percent in 2019/2020. The World Bank names Rwanda’s gold exporter as “an Emirati gold refinery company in Rwanda in 2019.” And where does Rwanda get such enormous amount of gold to export? The June 2020 UN Group of Experts’ Report connects gold smuggling from DRC to Aldango Ltd in the following terms:

“Bukavu-based smugglers who deposited gold at Aldango Ltd during 2019 explained that they were paid in cash…Representatives of Aldango Ltd stated, in a meeting with the Group in February 2020, that the company might pay cash to individuals for small gold sales, but that commercial clients had an account.”

And who owns Aldango Ltd? The company describes itself as a Rwanda-based company with “state-of-the-art refining facilities offers the highest quality standards in line with refining, assaying, manufacturing as well as serving the mining industry on the continent.” The UN Group of Experts gives more details on Aldango’s ownership as follows:

“According to official company documents available at the Office of the Registrar General in Rwanda, Aldango Ltd had two shareholders, Hilly Metals Investment Ltd and Aldabra Ltd, each of which held 1000 ordinary shares as of last amendment in May 2019. Hilly Metals Investment Ltd was registered in Rwanda and had two Rwandan shareholders. The Group identified Aldabra Ltd in the December 2018 annual filing for Tony Goetz, a company registered on Belgian Crossroads Bank for Companies registry. The filing, which covered the year 2017, listed Alain Goetz as a direct or indirect representative of Aldabra Ltd, registered at AE151605 Rolex Tower, 26th Floor, Sheikh Zayed Road PO Box 1 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, according to the document.”

Fast forward to February 2020. The Goetz brothers who are Belgian nationals were found guilty by a court in Antwerp of money laundering and fraud. In other words, the Rwanda-based Aldango Ltd which exported US$522 million worth of gold in 2020 is owned by fraudsters.